Did you know that Chinese noodles used to be shaped like pancakes? I didn’t, but yes, apparently it wasn’t until Tang dynasty (618-917) that the noodles became noodles or 面 Miàn. Today, noodles come in all shapes and sizes, with each region being famous for its own specialty.
I like noodles, but I used to like them even more; one, because they are delicious, and two, during my rookie Chinese stage they were my number one choice of food, simply because I could always rely on 面 being something edible.
There are many, many kinds of noodles knocking about these days, but they can largely be divided into two groups: wheat and other (rice, starch, starch and something). Bellow is the list of the most famous noodle groups, along with some explanation.
Group 1: 面 Miàn (made of wheat)
炒面 ChǎoMiàn: fried rice. Spaghetti-like noodles fried with an egg, some veggies and meat; a good choice for a street food.
拉面 LāMiàn: hand-pulled noodles also known as Ramen in the Japanese cuisine. These are atrademark of Xinjiang restaurants.
拌面 BànMiàn: a definite winner on a spaghetti-look-alike contest; noodles with a sauce on top (拌 means to mix).
冷面 LěngMiàn: cold noodles; delicious in the sweltering summer, less so in the winter.
Group 2: 粉 Fěn (made of rice or starch)
炒米粉 ChǎoMǐFěn: fried rice noodles
河粉 HéFěn: wide, flat rice noodles (usually fried)
米线 MǐXiàn: rice noodles/spaghetti; a specially of Guilin region, soft, fat noodles (usually in a soup)
米粉 MǐFěn: thin rice noodles (usually fried)
粉丝 FěnSī: vermicelli (made of starch)
方便面 FāngBiànMiàn; Cup/instant noodles; for those cold winter days